Every college student needs to find his or her niche on campus. During the fall semester, first-year students ought to find a small handful of activities or groups outside their immediate roommate/hallmates/established friend group. This is very important because it will provide an expanded friend network, social outlets, and networking that can help introduce them to upperclassmen.
There will be a Student Involvement Fair on September 3rd that will be a wonderful way for your students to get a glimpse of all that is possible at Wake Forest. There are over 150 student organizations at Wake Forest. Students from each organization will set up a table on the Mag (Manchester) Quad with their group’s information, as well as a sign up sheet for an email distribution list. Students who sign up will then get emails from that group and can be apprised of invitations and events. CAVEAT: urge your students not to sign up on 20 distro lists, lest they be bombarded with too much information. My advice is to take one pass through looking at all the tables first, then take a second pass and sign up for 3-8 groups that interest your student the most.
So what sort of things can students do to get involved?
Many of Wake Forest students participated in volunteer work in high school. For students who are civic- or volunteer-minded, they may want to tap in to our very robust Volunteer Services Corps. The VSC web site allows students to look at volunteer opportunities by service area. In addition to local volunteering, there are some alternative spring break trips and international service programs that are incredibly powerful experiences for those who participate. Campus Kitchen is a meal prep and delivery program that brings food to the needy, and is a great outlet for students.
For our sporty Deacs, there is a whole host of Campus Recreation options. From club sports to intramurals to outdoor pursuits like hiking, students can continue playing a favorite sport or learn a new one.
Student Union offers a wide range of campus programming. They have Tuesday Trivia in Shorty’s, “Short Courses” which typically last a couple of hours on topics ranging from Italian cooking to pumpkin carving, movies on the weekends, and more. They are always looking for volunteers on committees, so if there was one that interests your student, encourage him or her to email the chair and get involved.
For students who want to practice their faith – or explore new ones – there are a wide variety of denominational groups on campus through Campus Ministry. There are opportunities for worship, service, and spiritual mentoring. Groups always welcome new members and visitors!
The arts are alive and well on Wake Forest’s campus. Students can get involved by trying out for a campus play, auditioning for a musical performing group, or simply by attending some of the concerts, plays and shows on campus. Your student may not realize that one of his classmates also likes opera, or theatre until he attends a play and sees people he knows in the audience – which can lead to a new conversation starter and the beginning of a friendship.
The Campus Life web site is teeming with options – from leadership to service and more. Remind your student to explore all the options available. And if all else fails and you are concerned that your student isn’t getting involved, you can contact the Parent Programs office at email@example.com for some individual guidance on how best to direct your student to areas of activity that might be fulfilling.
The bottom line is this: students who get involved in a couple of meaningful campus activities and broaden their social horizons tend to build a very strong network of support. That bodes well for a happy fall semester!